The F9F-8 Cougar, manufactured by Grumman, was designed to serve as an aircraft carrier-based fighter aircraft for the United States Navy. Based on the earlier Grumman F9F Panther, the Cougar replaced the Panthers straight wing with a more modern swept wing. The Navy considered the Cougar a mere new version of the Panther (despite adopting a different official name) and thus Cougars started off as F9F-6 and upwards.
On January 18, 1954, the F9F-8 had its first flight. A total of 601 F9F-8s were delivered to the Navy between April 1954 and March 1957. During the course of production, a fixed in-flight refueling probe was added to the nose. Most F9F-8s were fitted with Ultra High Frequency (UHF) homing antenna in a fairing underneath the nose. Late production F9F-8s were fitted with the capability of carrying two Sidewinder infrared-homing air-to-air missiles underneath each wing. This feature was retrofitted to many earlier F9F-8s.
In 1962, the F9F-8 was redesignated F-9J under the new Defense Department Tri-Service designation scheme. The F9F-8B fighter-bomber became AF-9J. Later, when used as advanced trainers, some of these aircraft became TAF-9J.